How To Start A Career As A Corporate Trainer

I often get asked – what should one do to become a corporate trainer

This is a valid question since

  • Training isn’t one of the streams you can pick up in college
  • There are so many sources of information that it can get quite confusing
  • The training fraternity isn’t the most helpful – well, I am going to be blunt here 🙂

So I thought of putting together this post which can help anyone get started in this industry.

I want to talk about the skills required to be a trainer, move on to things one can do to get into the profession and finally throw light on some of the challenges you are likely to face.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A CORPORATE TRAINER

I have people – experienced and freshers – write to me about wanting to become a corporate trainer.

And I have one question to ask you before anything else – WHY?

Some people think experience in the corporate world qualifies them to train people.

Others feel that they have a flair for talking to people and so they want to turn into full time trainers right from the start of their careers.

Start with WHY?

Why you want to pursue a career is a pretty critical part of being successful at it

Having been in this industry for almost 2 decades, I can assure you there’s nothing glamorous about being a trainer!

So have a very clear reason why you’d like to go into this profession.

The information in this post should help you make a decision.

WHAT DO YOU NEED? 

Corporate training is a unique mix of self learning and confidence in public.

Here’s a checklist of the skills you should be 100% sure you possess before you jump into this profession:

1. CONFIDENCE:

I don’t just mean confidence that you can train but also the confidence of public speaking.

Even if you are an introvert, understand that meeting people and working with them is an integral part of being a trainer.

And having seen the way the industry has evolved in the last few years, it is imperative to get extra social. Appear at networking events in order to build your brand as a trainer offline too.

Confidence is important to gain credence in front of participants

Confidence is also being able to talk well and be able to hold people’s attention while you do that. If facing people gives you the jitters, this isn’t the right career for you.

2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: 

It goes without saying that your communication skills should be flawless, especially if you wish to be a communication and soft skills trainer.

You can not win the trust of your clients if you don’t have command over skills your claim to train in.

As the expert, you are the one who is expected to bring in clarity in communication with the client. 

More often than not, the client gives vague details about the training requirements. Your questioning skills need to cull out clarity in their demands.

You also need to be assertive when you talk money or deal with rude participants in the session. 

3. WILLINGNESS TO LEARN

Skills for the workplace is not an academic course you can graduate in.

A lot of learning happens on the job – through trial and error. 

I’d say willingness to keep yourself updated about latest research and norms is the single most important skill as a trainer. 

Benita Dua, a social media trainer who runs Vanilla Skills rightly sums it up when she says, “Good public speakers don’t, by default, make for good trainers”.

She feels that one should be willing to add to one’s skills to be a successful trainer.

To add to her advice, I’d say that self-learning should be your constant companion.

Read up online, make notes, learn from others’ experiences when you hear about them – are a few ways to keep the learning going. 

I regularly participate in events to keep myself updated. Here I am with other trainers at Trainers Forum, Mumbai

4. ANALYTICAL SKILLS

I feel that there is a lot of analysis and judgement required as part of the job.

There are a lot of questions whose answers you will need to figure out through analysis of a situation.

– What are the exact expectations of the client even if he isn’t able to express it in as many words?

– How much content do you need to develop to cover the duration of the class?

– What kind of activities would work best with the profile group?

– What does class expect when you face them at the beginning of a session?

And during the program: 

– Is the session going fine?

– Do you need to tweak it to suit the group better? 

As mentioned earlier, you will learn this along the way.

Reading up online and learning from your own and others’ experiences will help a great deal. Sometimes shadowing senior trainers int heir sessions also helps, if they let you that is. 

Mitu Samar, a personal branding expert who runs Eminence Online,  aptly puts the mantra as practice, practice, practice – and it applies to both, beginner and an expert.

She also adds that understanding your audience, customizing content will help a beginner create a lasting impact as a trainer.

5. MARKETING AND SALES

Whether you are planning to work on your own or for a training company, I think learning the ropes of business is a must.

Especially if you are planning to work on your own!

How to project your company, what are the brand values, what’s the pitch you will use – these are some of the marketing basics you should understand. 

How to find prospective clients, how to pitch your program, how to deal with objections – these are a few sales basics you should master. 

6. BRANDING

This is the a recent skill thrown in the mix! Branding yourself as a trainer is critical to increase your value.

We live in times where we need to reach out to people about what we do – no one is coming to us with work. 

You will need branding skills to push your profile forward and find clients for yourself. Linkedin is a great place build your brand and attract work. 

Here is a 2 part series on how to build your brand on Linkedin

Supriya Dhongde, a psychologist and Dale Carnegie certified trainer, covers all the points when she puts her list together – continuous efforts on the right attitude, sharpening skills, enhancing knowledge and strong belief in the innate potential of people.

THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO START AS A CORPORATE TRAINER 

1. GET CERTIFIED 

We get a job based on the degree we have.

Same goes for training. 

The first thing I did when I wanted to start training was to get myself certified as a trainer.

The brilliant Train The Trainer (commonly known as TTT or T3) program at Dale Carnegie was a great course on generic training skills.

It covered all the essentials of being a good and effective trainer. From projecting the right body language to questioning, listening, responding, it equipped me to be a better trainer.

The training was quite impactful and I some of those learnings have become second nature to me. 

I talk about Dale Carnegie because I have actually taken their course. There are many more train the trainer options in the market now. 

Here’s a post on how to choose the right training certification

Just  couple of quick pointers: 

– Make sure it is from a known name in the industry since you’ll be associated with it in the long term

– A T3 certificate will get your foot in the door when you start as a trainer. A qualified trainer with no experience is slightly better than a trainer who has neither. 

I went in for an additional certification from IIM, Indore to brush my training skills and also learn new things. This pic is from my final presentation with my group.

2. DECIDE A TRAINING VERTICAL

You are certified in generic training skills. 

Now you need to decide what’s your expertise – your niche. 

If you have previous experience, you might pick out what you are best in. If you are new, you’ll need to pick topics that you are passionate about. 

I started with language related modules because language has been my core expertise. I gradually moved on to taking softs skills and behavioural skills modules (and then, coaching) 

I’ve been at it for 17 years and till love it since I am passionate about all forms of communication.

Here is a post on how to choose your training niche

3. PUT YOURSELF IN THE MARKET

And here starts the challenge – go out and find work. 

Like I already said, work is never going to walk up to you. 

Linkedin is the best place to begin showcasing your profile and network professionally.

Make sure that the content you post and the people you connect with are all aligned with what you do, the services you offer.

Don’t hard sell. Showcase your expertise instead. Don’t tell people you sell a service.

Find out people’s problems and see how your services can solve it for them. Only then people show interest. It’s about what’s in it for them and not what YOU want to sell.

Here is a post on how to write good content for social media

CHALLENGES AS A CORPORATE TRAINER

Every career choice comes with its own set of challenges. 

And even more so if you are planning to plunge into an unorganised profession like training. 

Let me begin by debunking the most popular myth –

corporate training is not as glamorous as it looks or seems.

It’s one thing to see a smartly dressed trainer waltz into the training room and dazzle everyone with his/her talent.

And a different thing to go through the toil of sweat and grime that goes into making that session appear so seamless.

Here are a few more things you should know before you jump all in:

1. IT CAN BE CONFUSING

There are no standard rules of pitching, content writing and training. You’ll need to learn all this on the job or from experienced trainers. 

You’ll find every trainer’s style to be different and none of it is standard practice. Again, trial and error could be your best friend. Although there are so many resources today to make a new trainer’s journey easier. 

2. CONTENT IS A DIFFERENT BALL GAME

How would you create content for participants you haven’t even met? 

How much content is enough for 8 hours of delivery?

How does one match the content to the training needs? 

You get the drift!

Which is why I said that your communication as an expert is a huge asset here. You need to bring in a lot of clarity from the client so that you can do your part of the job well. 

Also, content work is pretty intense and time consuming  – especially when you are new.

It involves hours of planning the structure and flow of the session and coming up with activities that will drive home the point.

And then comes creating slides and handouts, designing participant work books and other collaterals that your client might need (or demand)

There is good news though – it does get better! After you’ve done it a few times, you will get into the flow. 

After about 12 years in the industry, I started my company and decided that I did not want to do ppts anymore.

But I could do that since my training skills were pretty sharp and I knew I could carry off a session with theory and activities. I did not need the crutch of slides any more.

Luckily, even the clients have evolved. They don’t mind novel methods of training and don’t insist that ppts be apart of the deal. 

3. LONG TRAINING HOURS

In all my years of training, I have been asked only once about the physical rigour that goes into conducting a session. 

People generally look at the creative side of training and tend to ignore the physical labour involved. Some of you may differ but training for 8 hours in a day can be quite straining on the body and the vocal chords.

Long training hours can be quite strenuous

The trainer needs to not just be on his/her feet, but also remain energetic throughout  to ensure that the participants’s interest remains unflagging.

When you train for a few consecutive days, it definitely takes a toll on you. So unless you truly enjoy what you do, it’ll be hard to carry on.

4. ONLY THE LAST FEEDBACK SURVIVES

You are only as good as your last training program

There is a feedback form – called happy sheets – at the end of the program to gauge how the session went. 

This is just one of Donald Kirkpatrick’s 4 level evaluation model and gauges just the “reaction” of the participants.

It captures the immediate impression of the participants about the training program.

But, as a trainer, this will have the most bearing on your career.

Most organisations pay the most attention to this – higher levels of feedback usually being non existent.

So you are as good as the scores on that sheet at the end of the session.

You may have done your best but if that does not translate into good scores that will finally reach the client, it all comes to nought.

5. POOR COMMUNITY BONDS

How many trainers do you know personally? 

And if asked, how many have candidly shared their experience with you? 

The answers to these questions will give you the state of the trainers’ community. 

If you ask me, it’s not in a great shape; it has never been. 

Other professions have conventions and meets happening regularly with the express purpose of building bonds and helping each other out.

Name one trainers’ convention that brings all of us together and is widely popular – you are likely to draw a blank.

Like I mentioned, times are changing. And if you wish to become a part of this community, I urge you to reach out and strengthen the bonds of community. Foster it at your level. 

I hope I have been able to bring forth all the points that an aspiring trainer is looking for.

Do you have more points to add? Do you have questions to ask? 

I am starting the next batch of trainer mentoring soon

Read more about it here.

You can fill in your details here and I will keep you updated about the next batch coming up soon. 

 

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Comments

  1. I liked enjoyed reading it.. Nice flow..and covers most of the points.. Wish I could ever decide on pushing my profile.. Yet, work happens.. Angels appear quite frequently..Thanks!!

    RS

  2. Latha

    Dear Suman,

    Its really very useful and worth reading. Added a lot of clarity on my thoughts of becoming a trainer.

    All the best and thank you.

    Latha.C

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Feel free to get in touch with me if you need to talk about training options. Cheers!

  3. Dear Suman, very well articulated and relevant. Thanks for sharing and best wishes! To add my small bit… Would encourage aspiring trainers to join NHRD Network local city chapters and attend their events… Wonderful learning & networking opportunities there at NHRD chapters.
    Also, would welcome any of you to reach out and let’s start meeting informally for experience sharing, in addition to the blogspots and other virtual world platforms.
    Regards
    Cdr Rajendra Pawar
    9922928813
    firstlight1104@gmail.com

    1. Thank you so much for your inputs. If you don’t mind, I’d like to update this in my post with due credit to you. Would you like me to link your name to any of your online profiles? Do let me know!

  4. Rajesh Parekh

    Suman, you have put together a well structured methodology from your own experience , which will indeed be very useful to new entrants to the training industry. Congratulations and Best of luck.

  5. rahul

    Suman, very well thought out & structured inputs. Possibly one thing I would like to add is that the prospective trainer can add greater value if he/she has managed to gather at least around 5-8 years of meaningful work/performance experience before venturing into the training space. Otherwise one may fall well short of market expectations. A little maturity always helps, its never let down anybody

    1. Valid point! Experience always helps us do better. However some people want to start their careers from training. Hoping my post will help them. Thank you for dropping by and leaving your comment. Do come back soon!

      1. Khushbu

        Maam i want to be a trainer..plz help me how to start..very much confused..

  6. Yuvraj

    Hello Suman, This article is really good. You made it and present it in a very structured manner.Really appreciating.

  7. Savita Kulkarni

    Hello Suman Kher,

    Your inputs are really a good value addition to my understanding of training field. It will help me to make better career choices.

    Regards
    Savita

  8. rahul

    Hi Suman, I am back. Quite a few times I have had opportunities to write content for a training vertical. However the client is reluctant to give me sufficient inputs for the TNA. Further the program may be for just a day. We know one size may not fit all. In such cases what thumb rule should the trainer follow to create content & also ensure that the program is effective ?

    1. Hi Rahul. Thanks for writing in. Can I write to you on an email id rather than on a blog comment? We can continue the discussion there in case you have more questions. Looking forward!

  9. Hello Suman, The article is well structured and I’m sure it will provide clarity to many aspiring trainers queries and doubts. I suppose the next best option to avail a TTT certification would be from Bodhih. They are amazing and their certification will give an edge to the aspiring trainers above the others.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Santosh! Dale Carnegie is just a suggestion. I am sure Bodhih is a great place for trainers in the making! 🙂

  10. Trupti Bhosale

    Hello Suman,

    Wonderful article! I am thinking of getting into being a trainer but was unsure if i can. Reading your article gives me a good picture of what I would need to get started. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Trupti! You can also get in touch with me in case you have any further questions. I’ll be happy to help!

  11. Manikandan Ravichandran

    Hi Suman,
    I happened to come across your article on how to become corporate trainer. It is simply awesome. I have got clarified all my doubts through your article. I have experience of 3 years and currently working as a senior engineer in a automotive industry. I hold Bachelor degree in mechanical engineering. But I would always like to become a corporate trainer in behaviour improvement and team building and corporate life style. I know I need to be certified. But to be frank I have no clues in how to start? And where to start? I would desire to get advice and suggestion from you. Could you help me in this? However I planned to start trainer profession only after getting 5 years of experience in my industry career. Need your words to progress my dream in a excel way.

  12. Roshan Namboodiri

    Hi Ma’am,

    Thanks for your insight into this field. I am an aspiring Corporate Trainer myself. About the certifications you mentioned, how good is the “Diploma in Training & Development” from ISTD? Can you please share a few types of relevant certifications?

    Thanks in advance !!

    Roshan N

    1. Hi Roshan! Thanks for the kind words. I did 2 semesters of ISTD and found that the course material was very outdated and theoretical. This was a few years ago and I am not sure if the course has been updated. You may find that out from their website. I can vouch for Dale Carnegie because I did my TTT from there. Although this was in 2009 and I hope their quality continues.

  13. Poulami Basu

    Hi Suman,

    A wonderful informative article for aspiring corporate trainers. Keep it going.

    Regards,
    Poulami

  14. Geetika Joshi

    Hi Suman,

    Really liked the inputs given by you, they are very profound.I would like to know which is the best institute for doing IELTS & TOFEL certfication. Also do non native speakers get a job after this course.

    Thanks in advance
    Geetika

    1. I think BCL runs classes for them. I think it’s open to non native speakers too. You may want to Google some of this information.

  15. Depa

    Hi Suman, Thanks for the wonderful write up. Sensible article with precise information. I am aspiring to be a trainer in lnguage and behavioral skills and indeed your article has helped clear most of my doubts. look forward for more inputs from your end.

  16. Cecilia

    Hi Suman, Thanks for your explanation. I wish to be a trainer, but I am not good at English, does it matter? What should I prepare myself?

    1. Hi! Corporates mostly need English as the medium of instruction or at most a mix of English and Hindi. If you wish to teach in regional areas where only the local language is required, you may not have to worry about it. But otherwise it is a good idea to have a good working knowledge of English.

  17. sharmili ghosh

    Dear Suman Ma’am,
    Hope you are doing well!
    The article was worth reading and actually gave me a wonderful insight on how to pursue a career in corporate training.
    Being just a beginner in the corporate world in sales domain, I have some doubts which i would kindly request you to clarify. I was a channel sales manager for almost 2 years and now i am taking up a postion as a soft skills trainer in my university where i would be handling the training of MBA students. I am also taking up certification courses for training.
    I wanted to know that because i would join an educational institute would it be an issue if i want to make a shift to the corporates as a trainer in the later stage may be 2-3 yrs down the line. I would be really glad if you help me out with this query of mine.

    Regards,
    Sharmili Ghosh

    1. Hi Sharmili! Thanks for reading my post and leaving your comments. There should be no problem moving to corporate training later on. Except that the content and delivery for corporates is different from that in a college. But you can learn the ropes when the time comes. All the best!

  18. Piyush Biswas

    Yeah, Good Article, Thank you for sharing.As per my point of view, corporate training programs instill new skills in workers which helps in improving the work efficiency. They help in preparing a full-fledged professional individual who will excel in the professional corporate world.Recently I covered this course by online “Seleniumlabs”.Now am getting a Job as a corporate trainer at a good MNC company with good packages

  19. Bhuvana Thevar

    Thank you so much for such a crisp explanation.
    I would love to start my career as a Corporate Trainer. In fact this has been my dream for quite some years. I have almost 12 yrs. of experience in this MNC world.
    I have your mail id. I will mail you with some of my queries. Please assist me…..
    🙂

  20. Shraddha Shetty

    This article was of great help to me. As I look forward to be a corporate trainer.
    Thanks a ton.
    Please help me get in touch with you as I begin my journey.

  21. Manoj K

    Thank you for this simple and engaging article for a beginner. Is there any particular age at which one should get into corporate training, like after gaining some experience?

  22. shakila solanki

    Dear Suman,
    Great Piece of information shared by you. I appreciate it & happy to learn all the points mentioned by you.
    Thank you so much

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  24. motivational speaker singapore

    Really an extraordinary statement. Thank you so much for inspiring.Thanks for sharing this one.

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  26. Corporate Training Singapore

    Really wonderful article. I have been looking for a document to understand more about branding and truly, I am satisfied. Thanks a lot!

  27. Nikhat

    Thank you so much for this.. I cant tell you how helpful this was. God Bless you darling. Lots of love and peace. Thank you so much.

  28. Pinki Bajpai

    Hey.. this post is really insightful. I would like to know more about this.
    How can i connect with you?

  29. Himanshu Mishra

    Hi Suman,
    It’s a very nice blog! Thanks!

    Are there fixed topics which fall under soft skill training? What I realise, there are no strict fixed topics and clients demand other things apart from the preconceived notion of the topics which fall under soft skill training.

    I am new as a corporate trainer and have till now just bagged 4 training assignments in a corporate at Kolkata (Topic – Motivation) and 6 training assignments for MBA and BBA students at 2 universities in Patna (topic – communication skills, office manners, and body language)

    Thanks and regards,
    Himanshu Mishra
    99030 42755

    1. Suman

      I agree Himanshu! Soft skills is a vast topic and clients need will change according to their business situation. As an experienced trainer, you should be able to gauge that need and provide the required modules.

  30. Ashna Sathyanandan

    Hi Suman,

    That is a really informative blog, as I was looking forward to take up corporate training as a serious carrier option. I’ve completed my BE in Computer Science Engineering and have worked in about three software companies by now in India. But now am looking forward to migrate to Canada and take up corporate training as my profession. To do so, would you recommend me to just complete the T3 certification or are there any other certifications that I’ll have to take up to pursue this carrier in Canada?

    1. Suman

      Hi Ashna! Thank you for your kind words. I am not sure what the criteria in Canada is. Maybe you should google or connect with trainers in Canada on Linkedin.

  31. Vivek Sharma

    Hi,
    Really a nice bog, your blog is very helpful for us.
    All your article is very informative.

    Thank You

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